Thursday, July 24, 2014

rainbow discovery bottles

I've been busy with a couple of summer teaching projects so here is a mini post to share! For our week of A Rainbow of My Own, I whipped up a batch of RAINBOW DISCOVERY BOTTLES for the kiddos to enjoy. Each one was made with warm water and clear glue with extra bits of color added for well...discovery.
The red bottle had glitter, orange had buttons, yellow...a chunky gold glitter, green...marbles, blue more glitter, and purple...beads. The children loved these. LOVED these! They practiced arranging them in rainbow order, naming the colors, and counting the bottles. They also carried them around the room, played with them all day long, and asked me all sorts of questions about what was inside each bottle, often bringing a bottle to me randomly throughout the day to proclaim that "Blue has glitter, Purple has beads." It was super fun!  They are now in our BIG window and make the room just a little more happy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

foil tape resist rainbows

This was a last minute project, one of those where you fly by the seat of your pants. I wanted to set up a rainbow painting station but we had already had our dot markers at the easel and our rainbow paints at the easel. I had a short stack of cardboard left over from another project and some foil left over from our painting with cars activity and thought to wrap the foil around the cardboard and see what the kiddos come up with.
After giving each paint cup a hefty dose of dish soap, I spied our roll of painter's tape and thought "Oh, yes, the kiddos will love this". My class kids adore tape, They love to wrap things and stick tape onto paper both for fun and for painting over so the set up was had.
We did this in both of our classes of three year olds and the variety of fun was lovely. Most of the children taped up their foil all willy-nilly and then painted all over it. There were quite a few brown paintings to be had as well and there were a few lovely rainbows all arced up and painted in rainbow order. I love how each kiddo takes a process and makes it their own. I wish I had photos of the finished. I'm pretty sure I do but I can't find them. Once I do though, I will post them. they were so happy! 

**Don't forget to add dish soap to the paint so it sticks. We used painter's tape and tempera colors. The children loved peeling off the tape almost as much as putting it on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

fine motor rainbow play

This was one of the magical ideas that came to me as I was running out the door to sub a preschool class last summer. Back then I used a couple of oh-so-lovely toilet paper tubes which only kinda worked as the bands were to springy and powerful the tubes got quite a bit wonky. This time I grabbed a cylinder block and set it up at our fine motor table to see what would happen.
I teach threes and this was a tricky project for them to tackle. I need to find a way to give the cylinder some staying power...maybe I should glue it to a board. The slipperyness of the cylinder caused a lot of frustration for my students. Some tried once and then abandoned it after the third hair holder flew across the room. That in itself was super delightful to the kiddos. Some gathered up all the holders and stretched them over their own arms to create bracelets. One of them, this one, worked and worked and worked, exclaiming when it got tricky (her words not mine) but persevering until she got one of each color carefully placed around the cylinder. 
I love the look of this project and how it creates an activity to use those fine motors and to problem solve. I will definitely do this again next year. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

investigating plants and flowers

This project and center came about when we were studying plants, flowers, and sequencing. You can see that our sunflowers had begun sprouting in their egg cartons. The children were really excited about that and it gave us an opportunity to talk about the parts of a plant. I had previously left the sprouts out so that my co-teachers could help me keep and eye out and water them when I was not there. By co-teachers, I mean we share a room. There are three of us in the room and three separate classes. Two of our classes run with the same themes and book titles while the third is a camp class of sorts and is always full of fun happenings. Our Friday teacher set this up on our science table thinking we would like to do this with our kiddos as well and she was totally right. Since it was also our week of A Rainbow of My Own, I swapped out the trays or rainbow colors and added our polka tray in the center to hold the parts. I brought in flowers from my garden at home and culled from the leftover plants we had from the previous week and set them out to for the kiddos to explore.

We talked about the parts of the plants and went through the various names as each child selected something from the polka dot tray. On our tray, was an assortment of the renegade bean plants that sprout when we "accidentally" leave black beans in the sand box after sensory play. One of the kiddos totally made the connection and insisted on going outside to harvest the remaining plants. Of course this led to others wanting to plant more so out came the tub of black beans as the children carefully planted them in our sandbox.

Friday, July 11, 2014

fun with rainbow dough

If you haven't noticed by now I am a bit of a rainbow freak. I love using the rainbow in the classroom to teach color, sequencing, and pre-reading skills. If you think about it, understanding the order of the colors in the rainbow from left to right is a precursor to reading. Plus, in nature and science, the order of the colors is always the same.
 I used my favorite stove top dough recipe (which you can find here) and made a single batch for each color. I used liquid watercolor (so much happy color to be had) to tint the dough. For set up, I placed a small ball (about half a batch of each so that each class could experience the colors separately before they got mixed to that glorious shade of brown that dough tends to get when all the colors are mixed) of each color on top of a sheet of blue construction paper that had been laminated with clear contact paper. I placed the dough colors in rainbow order.
Next to the happy dough, I set out a collection of dyed craft sticks and cubes. The craft sticks and cubes were purchased at a few different craft stores. I had been collecting them gradually just for this project (inspiration came from fun at home with kids) as wood pieces tend to be a bit on the pricier side of things. Thank goodness for sales!
The children oohed and aahed when they saw the happy set up. Weirdly, the colors remained unmixed for two weeks. Mostly they stacked the colors on top of each other then jabbed various sticks and cubes into the mess. A few of the children color sorted all the bits and created ice cream cones and rainbows even. We actually used this dough all the way through the end of the year though by that time it was a lovely shade of rust. The craft sticks and cubes visited many areas of the classroom as lollipops, tickets, money, magic cubes, and more. The children had a lot of fun playing with our rainbow dough!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

diy: rainbow clothespins

For our week of rainbow I dyed up a batch of wooden clothespins using the same method I use for dying pasta.
While I was at it, I dyed large craft sticks and small wooden cubes as well. These are not colorfast and do bleed onto paper and play dough when wet (maybe they would be colorfast if I had added rubbing alcohol). But that's okay, I think that only adds to their charm. 
 I set the rainbow pins up on one of my favorite trays along with a wooden storage box made of a thin veneer. I hoped the children would figure out that they could balance the clothespin on the side of the box and they did! I made multiples of each color so that they could sort or arrange as they wished.

Some of the children noticed that all of the colors of the rainbow were represented. Others counted out how many pins there were. The clothespins migrated all over the classroom but mostly they were balanced on the edge of the box. Fun!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

diy dyed pasta

There are oodles of diys for coloring rice and pasta put there (hello, Pinterest). I suppose mine is no more different than anyone other but I'm going to share it with you anyway. I use this method for dying rice, beans, pasta of all shapes and size, and even wood pieces such as wee blocks and/or clothes pins. It's really easy!
This is a small batch of dyed pasta as I only had one box. I wanted to use this pasta so the kiddos could string the pieces onto pipe cleaners during our week of rainbow. I think I did all the colors in the rainbow but I can't remember. I also have to tell ya that dying pasta purple is really difficult and you will most likely get something more akin to bergundy. So here is what I did. I scooped a cup of noodles into each bowl. Just a cup. A little goes a long way. Just one cup for each color if you are using a single pckage. Oh and this pasta is called ditalini and if you buy it in a box with that label you will be sorely over paying. It can also be found in a box labeled macaroni salad pasta and this my friends will be 2-3 dollars less. But that just may be my market...

Place your one cup of dry pasta into a resealable bag or container. Add a squirt or two of liquid watercolor or food color (you can even use watered down acrylic paint), seal the bag and shake it up. Use your fingers to smoosh the paint around from the outside of the bag. For color stay noodles, you can add a tablespoon of vinegar or rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol will help the noodles dry more quickly. You do not need to add either this is optional. If I remember I do, if I don't, I do not worry about it.

Spill the damp and now colorful noodles onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with wax or parchment paper until dry. It takes about 15 minutes to dry. Repeat for each color you wish.
Ah, yes. I did do each color of the rainbow and I think I did use watered down acrylic for the purple. It looks pretty vibrant there. I popped all the happy colorful noodles into a small shallow container along with a couple of wooden spoons. Next to the container I set out our happy rainbow bowls (best $3 thrift find!) and a white acrylic tray and waited for the fun to begin.
There was maybe a moment or two of color sorting going on but the bigger pleasure for the children was running their hands through the hole happy mess along with scooping, pouring, and dumping. Success!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

sponge painted rainbows

We had a week of rainbows back in spring and I found this project all over pinterest. We lightened up the colors a bit and set up a table with all the materials needed. I did one demo and then let the kiddos have fun with it however they chose.
Once their printed ranbows were dry, we trimmed the white paper around the color and mounted them on colored construction paper. One of our kiddos cut his into a cloud shape and another wanted two rainbows on their paper. They chose all different colors of the rainbow for their back ground papers. I wish I had pictures of them! I thought I had...drats!

Monday, July 7, 2014

diy paper rainbow clouds

Back during the spring, we had a week of rainbow fun. One of our projects was these paper rainbow clouds.  We used white paper and crepe paper streamers. The children really had a blast!
*sturdy white paper
*crepe paper streamers in rainbow colors
*glue sticks

Step 1: Hand out white paper to your kiddos and have them draw a cloud on it. I used 11" X 17" paper cut in half. Each child got a half sheet to draw their cloud on. I encouraged them to draw the cloud as big as they could. Each child had a different approach to cloud drawing as mentioned in this post.

Step 2: Cut around cloud shape for each kiddo if they are on the younger side. The children in my class are three and not many are confident with their scissors skills. I always ask before cutting. One of the children decided to make a rainbow instead and cut it all out on his own. It was awesome. I wish I caught a picture before he put it in his bag to take home. You can see him beginning to draw it in the third picture from the top there.

Step 3: Set out crepe paper, scissors, and glue sticks and have your kiddos add their streamers. The children used scissors to cut their streamers and glue sticks to adhere them to the paper. We had them glue their streamers to the side that had their cloud drawing on it though not everyone did that. It was all good. We talked a lot about rainbow order but it wasn't necessary for the project.

Step 4: Next, add a second sheet of white paper to the back of each rainbowed cloud. Before using your glue stick to adhere the back on, glue a loop of yarn to the top for easier hanging.Carefully trim with scissors taking care to not cut the streamers off (I speak from experience...d' oh!).

Friday, July 4, 2014

july 4th: last minute patriotic flair three ways

Need and activity to keep the kiddos busy? Make friendship bracelets! You can go the usual route and use red, white, and blue embroidery floss but I like to use variegated yarn. One, because you only need to purchase one ball of yarn, and two, because yarn is a little bit easier for little hands to hold on to.
This red, white, and blue ball of yarn is made of all cotton fiber. If you do not have one handy or your local shops are not open you can make your own ball using a couple of sharpies, white yarn, and a craft stick, like this.
To create this lumpy bumpy bracelet I knotted three strands of yarn around one strand using the basic friendship knot. Click here for a video demo I made a few years ago.
This bracelet uses the same basic knot. To make it knot one strand of yarn around the other two and switch to use the next color. The way my yarn was dyed I had to use three separate strands to create the blocked red, white, and blue look.
The final bracelet also uses three strands but instead of knotting them up I braided them. A safety pin is a great tool to add tension to the yarn as you knot and/or braid. You can pin it to your pant leg or a pillow.
Have a Happy Fourth, get crafty and stay safe! For more 4th of July fun, click here!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

spring themed water transfer

Here is another activity center we explored during our week of Over in the Meadow. Silicone birdie trays were set out in our small sized baking pans along with a glass jar of tinted water and an eyedropper. The children worked on water transfer using the eye droppers and then...after a fashion some pouring happened. It was interesting to observe how they reacted when they attempted to pour the water from the trays back into the jars. We have happy colored sponges at the sink that we use for clean up and the children, all on their own used those sponges to wipe up the water that went all over the table. Some decided to use their own hand towels for clean up and even after they spilled they tried it again and again. We even had one industrious young one that was really excited to transfer the water back into the jar from the birdie tray using the eye dropper. How's that for focus?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

fourth of july: coconut chia pudding parfait

This past school year, the kiddos were really into cooking, prepping, baking, and eating. The last recipe we tried was making chia seed pudding. If you are not familiar with chia seeds as a thickener or over all super food, check out this article. It was ridiculously simple and two of the children gobbled it up before it could set. I still need to post photos from our recipe day but here is a super easy patriotic parfait you and your children can whip up in a flash. Set time is at least two hours but an overnight rest is even better. If you want the texture to be firmer, add more seeds. If you want it to be sweeter, add more honey or other liquid sweetener of your choice (maple syrup is a good substitute).
Here's what you need to make four small parfaits...small meaning an 8oz mason jar. I added a little half n half to give the pudding a richer flavor. You do not need to do this. Some people add coconut water as well, some add different juices or other milks. I went with straight up coconut milk (the refrigerated variety, not canned) and it's just dandy. Chia seeds are on trend right now so the cost is a bit inflated. Trader Joe's sells a nice smaller bag for around $4 (I think it is 8oz). When I made the pudding with the kiddos at school, I picked up a cup of seeds from the bulk bin at Whole Foods. If you have never tried chia seeds I would try to find them in bulk. If the pudding is something you do not cotton to, you can add the seeds to smoothies, oats, cookies, or salads.
Pour your coconut milk into a medium sized bowl (I used a 4 cup measuring cup) and add your half n half. Next dump your chia seeds into the milk and add your honey as well. Use a wooden spoon to mix it up and add your vanilla. I also added a dash of cinnamon...I was feeling whimsical. Mix it all up and pop it into your refrigerator. If you think of it, after an hour or so, pull out the mixture and give it another stir or two. The seeds tend to settle on the bottom.
The next day, once the pudding is set you can assemble your parfaits. Place a handful of blueberries in the bottom of the jar, spoon a quarter cup or so of the pudding on top of the berries, add sliced or chopped strawberries and top with granola. I have to admit, chia pudding is will not win any beauty contests. Admittedly it looks a it alien and goopy. The mister will not touch it. You may want to liken it to the consistency of tapioca but that isn't right. The chia seeds are not as firm as tapioca or boba if anything the texture is a bit like a cold malt-o-meal...sort of. If you find that your mixture is too goopy, add another tablespoon of chia seeds, stir and let set. This recipe is really loose and you can play with the ingredients to get the texture you like.
This tiny jar full of goodness is adorable and ready for the 4th! Tie with a length of variegated cotton yarn or twine and throw a happy shindig!
Really, look how cute that is! It's tasty too! I suppose you could try making this pudding with any type of milk beverage. Oooh, I wonder what it would taste like with horchata? Or what if you got all decadent and omitted the coconut milk and used straight up half n half? The possibilities are immense!
See? Easy peasy. Kiddos can easily measure, pour, dump, and stir it all up. This is not an exact recipe so there is a lot of wiggle room. Now getting the young ones to eat it up may be a different story. Happy July 4th!

a bit of serendipity

The last time the mister and I were in Los Angeles we managed an epic Ikea run. Epic by way of items to use in the classroom. One of the items I purchased was this cookie cutter set. I had no idea when or how I would introduce it to the classroom but it was so cute how could I resist? When we got home, I tucked them away and totalyl forgot about them until this week when I found them again. As I was gathering supplies for school, I grabbed the cookie cutters and thought to place them in a small baking pan I picked up from the dollar store. Lo and behold, they fit crazy perfectly and so instead of adding the cookie cutters to the play dough table, I set up this shape match instead. The children were intrigued and perplexed as it was not as easy as it appeared. We talked about orientation and direction and used words such as rotate, turn, and flip. The children also got to practice naming the animals in the set. Serendipity is fun!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

making fairy bread in the classroom

For our week of A Rainbow of My Own it was all rainbows all the time. For our cooking project I set up a fairy bread station. While it is not cooking as we know it, it is a lovely food prep project that kiddos really enjoy. We talk about steps and sequence, ingredients, and tools used. We observe what is on the table and the children make declarations and predictions. They then use their fine motor skills to spread the butter onto their bread and sprinkle the sprinkles on top. Food prep is a wonderful opportunity for learning. I try to incorporate it into the classroom each week. When we are unable to work on food or drink prep we usually follow a recipe of sorts such as making play dough. Enjoy!